On to the Rams. The Raiders head into their final week of training camp in preparation for their second preseason game when the LA Rams come to Oakland. The preseason is underway while the regular season is still 27 days away. Let’s look at number 27 in Silver & Black.
S Reggie Nelson
Entering his second season with the Raiders, this 11-year veteran will turn 34 just after the season starts. He’s hoping to make it three straight Pro Bowls after not heading to the Pro Bowl in his first 8 NFL seasons. It’s also the final year of the 2-year deal he signed with the Raiders which means this could be he final NFL season, or at least his last in Oakland.
Nelson collected 5 interceptions last season a season after picking off 8 passes with the Bengals. With him manning the free safety spot last season, replacing the retired Charles Woodson, there was a steep dropoff in the play of the secondary. Despite his interception number, he was out of position quite a bit. The Raiders coaches have diagnosed it as poor communication and made coaching changes to try and fix it.
Nelson has said he sees the improved communication in the secondary and credits some of it to fellow safety Karl Joseph entering his second season. Joseph had some big hits in the game, but that supposed improvement didn’t show up. Good thing there are three exhibition games left before the regular season.
Who wore it best: RB Frank Hawkins (1981-87)
Originally drafted in the 10th round in 1981, he came to a team just off winning the Super Bowl. In total, he would spend seven seasons with the Raiders, which was his entire NFL career. In that time, he was a serviceable back.
During the Raiders' 1983 season, he had career highs in carries (110), rushing yards (526), and touchdowns (8). The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl that year and in the playoff run, Hawkins scored three touchdowns -- one against the Steelers in the first round and two against the Seahawks in the conference championship. Hawkins would switch to fullback in 1985 and was the team's full time starter for two seasons.